said it sees a potential U.S. market of nearly 3 million
patients that will eventually be worth $1 billion in
annual sales for these types of drugs.
"That's very positive news as the group is
considerably expanding its market," Gilbert Dupont
analysts wrote in a note.
Oralair is a fast-dissolving tablet to be placed
under the tongue that contains extracts from five types
of grass pollen: sweet vernal, orchard, perennial rye,
timothy and Kentucky bluegrass. It harnesses the immune
system to alleviate allergies and is an alternative to
current treatments that need to be injected.
Merck and Danish partner ALK Abello are also expected
to launch their rival therapy Grastek in the United
States this year. In December, both drugs received
strong recommendations from outside advisers to the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Oralair was approved in the European Union in 2008
and is also sold in Canada, Australia and Russia for the
treatment of grass pollen allergy. It generated revenue
of 22.2 million euros ($30.5 million) in 2013, up 37
percent from 2012.
Greer Laboratories, Stallergenes' U.S. partner, aims to begin
selling Oralair within weeks of the FDA's go-ahead. But the peak
season for Oralair prescriptions is between December and June,
so U.S. revenue from the drug this year should be limited,
Stallergenes' former chief executive said last month.
[to top of second column]
The approval of Oralair triggers a first milestone payment of $10
million from Greer to Stallergenes. Overall, Stallergenes is due to
receive milestone payments totaling up to $120 million, plus
royalties and an undisclosed transfer price.
Shares in Stallergenes were 6 percent higher at 61.49 euros at
0840 GMT, trading at more than twice their average daily volume and
giving the company a market capitalization of 843 million euros.
(Reporting by Susan Kelly in Chicago and Natalie Huet in Paris;
editing by Eric Walsh and James Regan)
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